Author's Note: Part Three inna Series. First two parts are "Not to be Wise", and "Not to be Great." This puppy's a four-parter, since eventually I'm going to run out of song lyrics to steal titles from. Disclaimer: No, they're not my characters. No, it's not my world. It's all stolen. (sob… bad Ricki… bad…) Except for Mikey. For better or for worse, Mikey's mine. Do you want him? Rating: PG-13 mostly for language Summary: Julian and Cameron have a disagreement and Daedalus has to choose sides. Cameron burst into the Council room, eyes glowing. The slam of the heavy wooden doors stunned the rest of the room into stillness. He stood there with his arms crossed over his chest, staring out over the occupants. Lily watched him with morbid curiosity, waiting eagerly for his imminent explosion. Daedalus, partially obscured by the Toreador, stared at Cameron for a second, and then turned away quickly. Across from him, Cash was already on his feet, face stormy. Cameron ignored the incensed Gangrel. All his attention was on Julian, who sat at the head of the table, steepling his fingers nonchalantly. With stiff, measured steps, Cameron made his way over to the table, until he was directly across from the Prince. Slowly, he bent down, placing both hands on the aged wood. Standing, he loomed over Julian. The Ventrue did not seem particularly bothered by the discrepancy in their heights. He looked steadily up at Cameron, raising one dignified eyebrow. The Prince's seeming calm goaded Cameron further. The Brujah's hands tightened on the wood, leaving little furrows where his nails scraped at the finish. "You bastard!" He wasn't yelling. Yet. Rage vibrated through his growl. Julian didn't bat an eyelash. Off to his right side, Cash gave a strangled grunt. "Don't you talk to him that way you piece of…" he was cut off by a negligent wave from Julian's hand. The Gangrel sat back down, grumbling unhappily. Cameron didn't even spare him a glance. His eyes bored holes into the Prince's head as he waited for a response. Julian shifted slightly and placed his hands in his lap. "You have a grievance, Primogen Cameron?" "Damn straight I have a 'grievance'", Cameron snarled. "I come back from a business meeting and find," he pushed off the table and started to pace back and forth in little spurts, "that your bully boys have been in MY territory. Unannounced. Uninvited." He stopped pacing and slammed his hands on the table again. "And that you have… taken one of my people! Without my knowledge, OR consent!" He put all of his weight on his wrists, heaving with emotion. Julian regarded him with a patient smile, drawing out the silence after his outburst. He waited until Cameron was about to burst into another harangue and then cleared his throat. His voice was calm, but flecks of fire were starting to dance in his eyes. "I sent my men in to collect him for trail. As is my duty as Prince." He studied his fingernails. "You were unavailable." "Bull! You waited until I was out…" Cameron cast around the circle of faces staring up at him. He KNEW Julian had planned the whole fiasco, but he couldn't prove it. With an incoherent growl, he shut his mouth and walked over to his seat. He yanked the chair out savagely and collapsed into it. Thus settled, he crossed his arms over his chest. "I still should have been notified." "I believe you were left a notice." Cameron didn't bother to dignify that with a response. He'd found the post-it on his desk after twenty minutes of interrogating his traumatized staff. Half of them were ready to flee the city, fearing retribution from the Prince, and the other half had been arming up. Cameron didn't really appreciate either reaction. The terrified ones had to be calmed and coddled and the angry ones had to be disarmed. No one should have to disarm fifty enraged Brujah, not even their Primogen. "What's this about, Julian?" Lily tapped her lips with one perfectly manicured nail. "Cameron seems to know," she gestured to the spluttering Brujah, "but the rest of us are rather… in the dark. If you would be so good as to enlighten us?" Her eyes narrowed with impatience. Julian smiled at her graciously. "Of course. Despite Cameron's reaction," a strangled sound came from the Brujah's section of the table, "it really is a small matter." "I’m sure it is." Lily smiled with sugared acidity. She didn't know what was going on, but the air reeked of yet another power play. It was Friday night. She had better things to be doing on a Friday night, no matter how amusing it was to watch Cameron go purple. "Do go on." "I merely removed one of Cameron's people from his compound for tribunal." Julian shrugged. "And?" Lily let a little of her impatience bleed into her voice. She had decided to treat this like a boil. Lance it before it festers, or worse, goes under the skin, otherwise they'd all be stuck here until kingdom come. "Primogen Cameron objects to my methods…" Julian cocked his head at the Brujah questioningly. Cameron took a deep breath to steady himself. The exhaled air caught in his throat. To his relief, his voice was steady as he replied. "This should have gone before the council before any action was taken. My Prince." He let scorn drip off of the title. Julian smiled. Cameron felt a chill go up his spine. "Of course." The Prince folded his hands. "And since you seem so impatient… let us proceed." He turned away from Cameron to address the whole table. "Earlier in the week, a Brujah neonate attacked one of my officials. He sustained serious damage. And the fight drew undue attention to the Kindred community as a whole." Julian's eyes narrowed. "In light of such unprovoked violence, I believe the young one should be exiled from the city, before he can cause further disturbance." Cameron hissed. There was no way Mikey could survive on his own outside of the city. Even if Julian's people didn't follow him and finish him off outside the lines, he had nowhere to go. Mikey was a city-boy, life in one of the free-Brujah enclaves would not agree with him. He could go to LA, maybe, where Cyrus would eat him alive. "The fight wasn't unprovoked." He ground his teeth. "Even Mikey's not that idiotic. And the punishment," he rose to his feet without thinking, "is too extreme. It's ludicrous. We're talking about a fucking bar brawl here. They're practically nightly entertainment at the Haven." He ignored the dirty look that Lily shot him and rose to his feet. "Face it, Luna. If it hadn't been one a your cronies, you wouldn't even sully your hands." He leaned forward, knuckles whitening. "This is just an excuse to…" "Primogen Cameron!" Julian's barked command left no room for questions. A snarl flashed across his face like a gash on a marble statue. "This is unnecessary." "You got that right," Cameron mumbled under his breath as he sat down, eyes never leaving Julian's throat. It would be so satisfying just to reach over and give it a good yank. The bastard wouldn't even know what hit him. Cameron swallowed, but kept his hands in his lap. "The case has been presented before the council. Unless someone feels the need to add something," he cast Cameron a significant look, "I put it up for the vote." Julian uncrossed his hands. "I vote for exile." He turned to Cash, seated at his right. The Gangrel shrugged. "Exile." Cameron had been expecting that. The "victim" was as much a part of Cash's staff as Julian's. And the Gangrel hated all Brujah, Cameron specifically. There was going to be no sympathy from that quarter. He was next. All eyes swung to him. "Against." His answer was succinct. Truthfully, he didn't trust himself to add anything to that. On a whim, he added, "And I should be allowed to punish him myself." That added insult to injury, but it didn't matter. The odds were stacked against him already; he could see that now. Cash, Julian: that was two votes. Who knew which way Lily would go? He had long since given up trying to second- guess her. As for Daedalus, his eyes flicked over to the Nosferatu, seated to the left of the Prince. His face was still hidden in the shadows. A brief twinge hit Cameron. Daedalus would probably vote with Julian. He looked away. Next to him, Lily was grinning maliciously. She was actually beginning to enjoy herself. Quite frankly, she could care less about one more Brujah badass. It would be easier simply to agree with Julian and send the boy away. But, she smiled, with Cameron staring so intently across her at Daedalus, where was the fun in that? If she had to endure this, it might as well be interesting. "I'm with Primogen Cameron." She met Julian's surprised glance sweetly. His lips twitched, words fighting to make their way out. She nodded slightly to acknowledge his attention and then looked away, ignoring him in favor of the scene about to be played out. Everyone's gaze had shifted to the Nosferatu seated next to her. His verdict had become the deciding vote. Daedalus remained perfectly still. Julian watched him with smug assurance. Cash had the same look, although little flickers of doubt danced in his eyes. Daedalus had been acting… oddly, lately. Lily took it all in with a self-satisfied smirk, secure in the knowledge that had just caused a bit of tension. Cameron's observation was a series of little bursts. His eyes flicked from Daedalus to Julian to the table, to his clenched hands and back. The Nosferatu let the silence continue for a second longer. Then, he leaned forward, out of the shadows. Above him the overhead lights made his face glow. There was a look of intense concentration hidden beneath the wrinkles of his brows. It swung intently from Cameron to Julian and back. Finally, he sucked in a deep breath. "I vote…" he hesitated, voice fading away. After a moment, he sighed. "I vote against." The words fell from his lips in a little rush of air, almost inaudible. "But", his voice gained in strength, "the Childe should be imprisoned." Shocked silence descended on the room. Daedalus melted back into the shadows over his chair. Cameron blinked at him in shock. His expression was mirrored on Julian's face. Unlike Cameron, though, the Prince's surprise was quickly turning to anger. His hands clawed and his mouth twisted. Sparks of gold flickered from the depths of his dark eyes. "Are you sure, Primogen Daedalus?" His voice was tight beneath its civilized veneer. Daedalus leaned forward once more. He met Julian's glare without a trace of emotion. "I have made my decision." Cameron strained to see the Nosferatu's expression, but Daedalus had turned his back to him. He faced the Prince straight on. "The vote is with Primogen Cameron." Julian nodded curtly. He shot Daedalus a look dripping with scorn, then, deliberately, turned away. Professional once more, he addressed the rest of the circle. "Then the matter is laid to rest. You," he pointed an accusatory finger at Cameron, "may collect your neonate after the meeting." Cameron nearly didn't hear him. He was too busy staring at Daedalus with a poleaxed expression. The Nosferatu's face, what he could see of it anyway, was as inscrutable as always. It was as if the past five minutes had never even occurred. Daedalus did nothing to acknowledge his attention. Eventually, Cameron gave up and returned his attention. From time to time, throughout the rest of the evening he stole glances at the Nosferatu. Daedulus's expression never changed. Finally Julian called the meeting to a close, still in a foul mood. As soon as he possibly could, he rose to his feet. He needed to talk to Daedalus, and the Nosferatu had an annoying habit of disappearing at inconvenient times. In fact, he was already heading for the door. Cameron shoved past Cash in an effort to reach him. The Gangrel gave a grunt of protest, but Cameron was too intent on his goal to notice. As he rushed through the heavy wooden doors of the council room, he could just glimpse the edge of Daedulus's cape rounding the corner. He chased after it, sacrificing his dignity in the last few steps to run. As he entered into the new hallway, he could see the familiar black shape fleeing towards a door at the end. Cameron cursed under his breath and picked up the pace. Daedalus whipped around at the sound of his footsteps. His hood fell, and for a brief second, his skin glowed under the overhead lights. Then he reached back and flipped it up, until only his shining eyes were visible. Cameron watched him, panting. The Nosferatu turned slowly to look at the door in front of him. He turned just as ponderously back to Cameron, indecisive. Finally, his hand fell off the doorknob and he turned around fully to face the Brujah. Cameron half-grinned and walked over to him. Trust his sense of propriety to get Daedalus every time. You don't just run away from someone who wants to confront you. Especially another Primogen. When he reached Daedalus, he shoved his hands in his pockets and leaned against the wall. To his surprise, Daedalus was the first to speak. "Can I help you, Primogen?" His tone was distant and formal. "I think you already did." Cameron cocked his head sardonically. "I'm just wondering why." Daedalus studied him for a moment, yellow eyes probing Cameron's brown ones. "I deemed the punishment unjust." He broke the look. "And I invoked my power as Primogen. Surely that is not so difficult to comprehend." His voice trailed off into a mutter. "Yeah. I just didn't expect you to go against Julian on this…" "Unlikely though it may seen, I do have a mind independent of the Prince's. Sometimes, indeed, I am capable of forming my own opinions." Cameron started, taken aback by the unexpected heat of his response. Even more surprising, he felt answering annoyance rising in his veins. "Maybe. But this ain't the first "injustice" you've seen either." He didn't need to add, And you let the other ones slide real easy. "My choices are my own. I choose to support my Prince." Cameron shoved off the wall. He scooted forward, until he was nearly touching the other vampire. "But it doesn't haveta be that way." He spread his hands. "You don't have to do things Julian's way." "What way would you have me do them?" Daedalus pushed his hood down, so that he could meet Cameron's face full on. "Perhaps I should do them the Brujah way? Perhaps I should do them YOUR way." Cameron grinned bitterly. "Damn sight better than doin' 'em the Prince's way." Daedulus's eyes narrowed. For the first time, Cameron saw anger tightening the wrinkles at the corners. "You honestly believe that, don't you? You believe!" He gave a bitter laugh. Cameron was secretly taken aback at his scornful tone. His reply was defensive, as well as angry. "Because it's true. Even YOU can see that." "No, Primogen Cameron," Daedalus closed the distance between them until he was staring straight into the Brujah's eyes, "I can't." He looked down. "Julian is not perfect. He may be Kindred, but he is human in every way that counts." His eyes rose to fix back on Cameron's face. "He may even make… certain mistakes. Sometimes… he rules badly. But he still RULES." His eyes blazed. "Not for much longer." Cameron regretted it the minute the words popped out of his mouth. If Daedalus repeated them to Julian, he was in deep kim chee. Still, he managed to hold Daedulus's gaze, even as he cursed himself. Before his eyes, Daedulus's fangs dropped from under his lip. Without warning, he surged forward and grabbed Cameron's throat. The Brujah was so stunned that he made no move to avoid his attacker. "So you want to kill Julian? Complete your vengeance? Take the City?" Daedalus threw back his head and gave another bark of laughter. Sarcasm dripped from his voice. "And, of course, Cash would offer no objection for a slain master. Lily would not revenge her dead lover." He shook Cameron's still-limp body. "Your ambitions would destroy this city." "What about…" Cameron gasped for breath under Daedulus's hand, "you? Who would YOU side with, Daedalus?" Daedulus's features fell in on themselves. "The Nosferatu serve no master. But I would serve my Prince." He dropped Cameron and stood over the prone Brujah. "And you will never be Prince while I am Primogen." He spun on his heel and continued down the hallway. Cameron pushed himself to his knees to follow the retreating vampire, but Daedalus was too fast for him. At the end of the hallway, a door slammed. Daedalus was gone, totally and irrevocably. Cameron felt his fists clench. Stupid. Stubborn. Officious bastard. He looked away from the door. Should have known Daedalus was Julian's pet from the beginning. Stupid me. He rose to his feet gracelessly and brushed himself off. It would be best to be gone before Julian's bodyguards came to see about the disturbance. Glancing again at the door, he spat a gobbet of blood in the direction Daedalus had fled. Well, screw him. Screw the lot of them. Body still tight with rage, he stalked around the corner, towards the outside world. Endnote: Thanks to Soledad for the support (and, eh heh, spelling corrections).